LONDON: Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has reportedly identified Dele Alli as a must-have signing for the club despite Real Madrid being long-term admirers of the playmaker.
The Daily Mail reported that with Andres Iniesta, 33, not getting any younger and Ivan Rakitic's future uncertain, the Spanish giants are believed to be in the hunt for a new midfielder.
And, according to media reports, top of that list is Germany international Leon Goretzka, who has been in stunning form for Schalke this season — while they also retain an interest in Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho
However, it is also understood that Messi has given his opinion and the Argentine would like to see Barca beat their rivals to the signature of Alli.
The 21-year-old has flourished since signing for Tottenham from MK Dons in 2015, and is now also a regular starter for the senior England team.
Messi is a huge fan, and would relish the opportunity to play alongside a midfielder who has scored 31 league goals in 80 games for the north Londoners
Barca, however, will prioritise the signing of Coutinho when the window reopens, while also keeping a close eye on Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.
Alli seems happy in north London, with Spurs battling for the Premier League title, but hinted earlier this year that he could be willing to leave in the future.